Public service balanced or merely on a knife edge?

Our friend Mike Jowsey says in comments: “It is headed for a total government of NZ by Maori. Think of Fiji or Rhodesia.” A scant three hours earlier, I received Colin James’s Management Magazine column for September 2011, which I reproduce below. The synchronicity of topics is unmistakable and James’ optimism clear. I take heart from the contrast with Mike’s scepticism.
 
There’s great concern for the position of Maori in society, with the majority responsible for filling the prisons, the dole queues and many of the hospital beds. Courageous, genuinely transformative interventions — and not merely feel-good, hand-holding sops to convention — are called for to let them restore their dignity and again earn an honest living. Whether this happens with the children or the adults, we’re looking at a lead time of 20 to 50 years, so we need to get started.
 
It concerns me to hear Muriel Newman tell us “many New Zealanders [are] completely unaware of what is really going on.” For she’s talking about me — I don’t know about you.
 
This is no off-topic digression either, for the link with global warming is through public policy decision-making. If we don’t know, or we disagree with, how public decisions get made, we must inform ourselves and agitate for improvement.
 
I want to know what Muriel is talking about. A rigorous examination seems called for. – Richard T

A radical departs the public service still sparking

Peter Hughes moves on after 10 years at the top of the Ministry of Social Development at the end of September. He takes with him — to the academic School of Government and some other appointments — his pre-eminent reputation as a chief executive. And he’s still pushing change.

The Maori party reckons whanau ora a revolutionary social policy initiative. But Hughes already had established the base from which whanau ora’s aim of a wraparound service could be developed: Community Link centres.

Peter Hughes

There will be 80 Community Link centres by end-2011 and 130 by end-2012. The aim is to transform the benefit and social assistance systems so they address in one place a range of people’s needs supplied by several services. They replace Work and Income centres which essentially dole out benefits and get people work-ready and into work.

Building on that, Hughes wants to transform the whole public service model. Continue Reading →